GLADSTONE - Cancer survivors and those close to them will have the opportunity to raise awareness and money for cancer research and education through the 2012 Relay For Life of Delta County.
This year's Relay For Life will be held at Marble Athletic Field in Gladstone from 1 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday.
"The 24 hours and the going over night is symbolic of the cancer struggle," said Community Representative Becky Carey. "Cancer never sleeps."
There is more to Relay For Life than walking around the track. Even people who are not walking are encouraged to attend to see ceremonies and participate in other activities.
"The two main things that people come to see are the Survivors' Lap and the Caregiver Ceremony," said Carey.
The Caregiver Ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The ceremony honors family and other caregivers who are affected by another person's cancer.
The Survivors' Lap is an opportunity to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and the victories they have made over cancer.
"We define a survivor from the moment of diagnosis," said Carey. "Some people think their numbers need to be down or something, but that's not the case."
The lap will take place at 9:30 p.m. on Friday.
On average, 90-100 survivors come to the Delta County Relay For Life every year.
"They don't need to pre-register. We have a table set up for the survivors and we can get them all set up there," said Carey.
Survivors are given a special t-shirt and a medal.
Survivors make a lap around the track following a banner featuring their handprints, while onlookers cheer them on.
"For those who are comfortable with it, we announce how long they have been a survivor," said Carey.
Some survivors may find the lap to be too physically challenging.
"We do have wheelchairs there, but for anyone who doesn't feel up to it, they can just come and be part of the ceremony. We'd love that too," said Carey.
For the Luminaria Ceremony candles are placed in bags and set around the track in memory of those who have been touched by cancer and those lost to the disease.
"They glow, and they light the track, and they last all night," said Carey.
Not all of the activities at Relay For Life are somber.
"We have a 24-hour DJ, so there's always music," said Carey. "There are parts of the relay that are very quiet and respectful but we try to make it fun because it's a celebration of survivors."
There will also be live music by sisters Emily and Erika Creten, and a Native American dance presentation.
Relay teams set up activities on the sidelines throughout the event. There will be carnival-style games, a bake sale, and a silent auction. One relay team offers unique hairstyles for participants and attendees.
"If you pay a couple of dollars, they'll do your hair like Cindy Lou Who from Dr. Seuss," said Carey.
The event will wrap up on Saturday with the Fight Back Ceremony.
"The idea behind it is to think about how we can personally fight cancer: Get a screening; If you smoke, stop smoking; Wear sunscreen," said Carey.
Flags representing the projected number of cancer cases next year in Delta County are displayed. Attendees are asked to make a personal commitment to fight cancer, and then take a flag from the display.
"Ideally, everyone comes up and all the flags are gone and than we walk a lap or two to symbolize the fight," said Carey.
This is only the second year that Relay For Life of Delta County has had the Fight Back Ceremony, but the ceremony has had an impact.
"We actually had a couple of team captains quit smoking over it, and they're still smoke free so that means a lot," said Carey.
For more information about Relay For Life, visit www.relayforlife.org.